If you ever feel you are not fully loose or stretched out before a game or you think that you could maximize your power output a little more if you could just loosen up properly, then this article is for you.
How should you stretch before and after a basketball game? A dynamic stretching routine can be a vital way to warm up and loosen the joints in preparation for your basketball game. Dynamic stretches that mimic movements on the court prepare the muscles for explosive actions. A static stretch routine is optimal to loosen up tight muscles from your game. Studies actually have proven that static stretching before a game will fatigue the muscles used in competition and a muscle that is fatigue will produce less power.
I will present to you a dynamic routine that will help loosen up the muscles without exhausting them to do before your basketball game. I will also provide a static stretching routine for you after your game to help you with those stiff muscles from playing basketball.
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What Is A Static Stretch?
A static stretch is a form of stretching that is used to improve flexibility and elasticity in the muscles. Usually, they were holding the stretch 10 to 30 seconds in a comfortable challenging position. When you think of stretching in general, you may think of the classic pull your leg up to your butt and hold it there for a period of 10 to 20 seconds. Or you’re in gym class doing a warmup with the class and you are sitting with your friends while you see who can reach out and touch their toes without bending their legs. Those stretches are known as static stretches.
Static stretches are best used to increase the range of motion in a muscle and in your joints. Static stretching in itself breaks down muscle fibers and repairs them like weight lifting does, increasing the flexibility in the muscle. Studies are finding that the more flexible a muscle is the more potential for it to be stronger than a muscle that is inflexible.
What is Dynamic Stretching?
Static stretching is stationary and the lengthening of the muscles, so you can guess that dynamic stretching involves movement while stretching the muscles briefly, improving their function and temperature for competition.
Nowadays dynamic stretching is the norm for a basketball warmup before a game, almost all teams do some sort of a warmup involving low-intensity movements such as butt kicks, high knees, walking lunges, etc. This helps get the muscles moving and warmed up by mimicking explosive actions done on the court. You are activating the muscles and fibers necessary that you will be using before the game so when your ready to perform a movement at a drop of a dime you are able to explode.
Generally, by the end of a good dynamic warm-up you should be sweating and ready to play basketball at full speed. If you are not warmed up there is a potential chance for injury when you step on the court. In young athletes, many injuries happen at the beginning of the game due to improper warmup.
How To Stretch Important Tips
Stretching can cause injury if you’re not careful. You want to hold a static stretch for 1o to 30 seconds without bouncing in and out of the stretch rapidly. When holding the stretch you want it to be comfortable and challenging but not painful. There will be a little discomfort, while you are in the stretch.
If it hurts immediately stop the stretching exercise, a better way to prevent injury and painful stretching is using progression. Start off by slowly getting into a stretch and hold it to where you feel it just a little discomfort, your next set goes a little further past your first set but not much further and hold. Then your 3rd set you will go as far as you can go and hold.
Slow and gradual stretching will help increase flexibility, it takes time to increase flexibility. A stretching routine should be used daily a couple of times a day to see the results you want.
Should I Static Stretch Before A Basketball Game?
Sports medicine and science have come along away, static stretching for quite some time has been the norm before physical activity. But that might not be the best way to loosen up a muscle group before competitive play. There are many studies that suggest that static stretching before a basketball or any sport is not a good idea as it weakens the muscles therefore not allowing your muscles to produce maximum power needed to make explosive movements to the basket when needed in a basketball game. This is why dynamic stretching is a much better option for pregame warm-up.
Dynamic Stretching Routine
This is just a sample dynamic stretching routine that I usually do, before workout and games. Feel free to add and or take away any exercises to suit your needs.
- If your sitting down grab an ankle and rotate it in circles to the right ten times and then rotate it to the left ten times.
- If your standing, pick an ankle and get on the balls of your foot you want to roll. Use the ground as support and rotate left 10 times and right ten times repeat.
- Repeat 2 to 3 sets.
- Stand feet shoulder-width apart.
- Step into a lunge by taking a big step forward with the heel hitting the ground first.
- Do not let the knee go past the toes.
- Make sure the back knee gets low to the ground.
- Stand up and take another step with the other leg and get into a lunge position with the other leg.
- Repeat 5 to 10 times each leg for 2 to 3 sets.
Notes: If needed take a couple of extra steps to get into lunge position for each leg.
- Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
- With your hands on your head, and feet pointed out to open up the hips.
- Lower down by bending at the hips to parallel, then return to starting position.
- 2 to 3 sets of 10.
Notes: You may use a chair to work on form and technique. if putting your hands on your head is difficult, cross your arms at your chest or keep them at your side.
Lateral Hip Swings
- Stand arms-length away from a wall, extend your arms and place your hands on the wall.
- Feet shoulder-width apart, swing your right leg in front of your left and back to the outside. (Imagine your leg as a pendulum).
- Repeat with the other leg or 2 to 3 sets of 10
Walking Quadricep Stretch
- Standing up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Take a step forward with your left foot while bringing up your right heel to your butt.
- Grab your ankle with your right hand and pull towards your butt and hold till you feel a stretch briefly.
- Take a step with your right foot and do the opposite with your left now.
- Complete 5 to 10 reps with each leg for 2 to 3 sets.
Notes: If you need to, take a couple of steps to get into the position, use a wall also if you have a hard time with balance.
Walking Knee Hugs
- Standing up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Take a step forward with your left foot while bringing up your right knee to your chest and hug your knee and pull up briefly.
- Repeat with the other leg.
- Complete 5 to 10 reps with each leg for 2 to 3 sets.
- Standing straight feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Arms are out to your sides while shuffling.
- You want to cross your right foot over the front of your left foot.
- Then return to the starting position by stepping with your left foot back to how you began.
- You want to cross your right foot under the left foot this time.
- Then take a step with your left foot back to starting position.
- Repeat steps 3 to 6 and then do the opposite direction.
- Set of 2 or 3.
There are so many more dynamic stretches you can use from side shuffles to high kicks to spider crawl. If you do a quick search on google you can see more exercises and examples.
Static Stretching Routine
This is a sample routine that I like to do after weight lifting workouts specifically. Again feel free to add or take away any exercises you feel you need to.
- Sit on the floor with your legs straight and together with toes pointing to the sky.
- Take one leg and cross it over by bending at the knee and placing it on the other side of the leg that is on the floor.
- The foot or the leg that is bent should be flat on the floor if done right.
- Now hug your leg/knee with both arms and bring it to your chest.
- You should feel a stretch in the hip, hold for 10 to 30 seconds.
- Repeat the other leg and do 2 to 3 sets.
Hip Flexor Lunge Stretch
- You may need a wall for support.
- Get onto the floor and stand on both knees.
- Bring the left knee up into a lunge position with the foot flat on the floor.
- Using the wall for support if needed, while keeping your back straight, slowly lunge forward until you feel the stretch in your right hip flexor muscle and quadricep.
- Hold for 10 to 30 seconds 2 to 3 sets.
Note: You may need to step a little further in your lunge if you are having a hard time feeling the stretch. You may at more difficulty to the stretch by lifting the arm that is on the same side of the knee that is on the ground being stretched. Lift the arm up and over your head.
- Stand at a wall with one foot in front of the other with hand on the wall.
- The lead leg will be bent while the back leg knee is straight and the foot is flat on the ground.
- Lean toward the wall and push you should feel a stretch in the calf and back of the leg.
- Repeat each leg and hold for 10 to 30 seconds, 2 to 3 sets.
Calf Stretch Using A Step Or Stair
- Choose which leg to stretch and then stand on one foot with the ball of your foot and your heel hanging off the step.
- Slowly lower yourself till you fee a stretch in your calf.
- Hold for 10 to 30 secs in a comfortable and challenging position.
- Switch legs and complete 2 to 3 sets.
Hamstring Stretches On the Floor
One Leg At A Time
- Sit on the floor with one leg out and the other leg bent and tucked into your groin.
- Attempt to touch your toes by bending at the waist while using either both hands or the same arm on the same side of the leg that is straight.
- Hold in a comfortable challenging position for 10 to 30 seconds.
- Relax repeat the other leg. Do this 2 to 3 sets.
Notes: Do not bend your knee when you are holding the stretch to try and touch your toes. if you can not touch your toes grab your ankle and work your way up.
- Sit on the floor with both legs out and together, toes pointed to the sky.
- Bend at the waist and lean forward and attempt to touch your toes with both hands.
- Hold in a comfortable challenging position for 10 to 30 seconds.
- Relax and repeat. Do this 2 to 3 sets.
Lying Quadricep Stretch
- Lay down on the floor on your side.
- Bend the leg that is not touching the ground while grabbing at the ankle with the arm this not on the ground.
- Pull your leg towards your but and hold in a comfortable challenging position, you should feel the stretch in your quadriceps muscle.
- Hold for 10 to 30 seconds and then switch legs.
- Repeat 2 to 3 times each leg.
There are so many more static stretches you can use from side lunges to other glute stretches, if you do a quick search on google you can see more exercises and examples that you can add.
Benefits Of Stretching
There are many benefits to stretching, from alleviating aches and pains to some even claiming it relieves their headaches and back pain. Remember to feel the benefits you need to be actively on a daily stretching routine, twice a day is sufficient to provide some of the benefits below.
- Improves posture
- Improvements in performance
- Relieves stress
- Increases range of motion in joints
- Increases flexibility
- Decreases muscle soreness
A regular stretching routine can decrease joint pain and muscle stiffness while providing a better quality of life.
What Happens If We Don’t Stretch?
If we ignore stretching, the muscle becomes tight while weakening over time, if we are not strengthening in our day to day life or working out. Then when the muscle is put under a load or does a movement it is unable to activate properly, unable to produce the power necessary that the muscle is capable of solely because the muscle is shortened or limited.
Muscles that are inflexible get tired a lot quicker, not only does it create muscle imbalances, it reduces mobility in the muscles and joints. This then increases the risk of injury.
Why Do We Need To Stretch?
Why do we need to stretch? Because it is scientifically proven that stretching keeps the muscles healthy and strong. Lack of flexibility affects our daily tasks in our lives, in general, this can be such tasks as waking up and getting out of bed to go to the bathroom in the morning as you feel the stiffness in your muscles and joints. Picking things up off the ground becomes harder while doing chores around the house becomes increasingly difficult until you get the body moving and the muscles warm.
How Do Muscle Pulls Happen?
Think of your muscle made up of thousands of muscle fibers, if you tear around five percent of these muscle fibers. this happens when you do a movement too fast and too hard for the muscle to handle.
A tear can result in pulling many muscle fibers and is considered far worse than a pull. A full rupture of these muscle fibers and you are looking at getting surgery for that muscle.
Sports that involve explosive movements, your likely to see more muscle pulls due to the athlete having more fast-twitch muscle fibers responsible for their fast movements. Fast more explosive movements will cause muscles to tear compared to activities that are more endurance like.
Because muscle pulls can happen when a muscle is stretched too far it is obviously important to stretch regularly as possible to prevent muscle pulls and tears.
When you have muscle imbalances it means other muscles must compensate for the weaker muscle group to make up for that lack strength and flexibility. Many times when we pull a muscle it usually is a weak inflexible muscle. It is also a muscle that is the opposite of a much stronger muscle.
For example, many basketball players have strong quadriceps due to all the running and jumping they do in a basketball game. The opposite muscle to the quadriceps known as the hamstrings are usually a lot weaker. This can cause the quadriceps to overcompensate for the hamstrings and can lead to hamstring pulls. I am willing to bet also the hamstrings are tight and need some flexibility work.
What Causes Muscle Tightness And Flexibility Issues?
You wake up in the morning and feel stiff from the basketball game the night before, you get out of bed and it’s hard to walk. It takes a while for the body to get the blood flowing to your joints and limbs first thing in the morning. There are a number of factors that can cause this tightness…
D.O.M.S. is otherwise known as Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness. The use of the muscles that are used to play basketball, the body will break down the muscle fibers and repair itself. It is the same when you are lifting weights, your body goes into repair mode after breaking down the muscle fibers and replacing them to become stronger.
Injuries And Sprains
Sprain, pull or tear in the muscle or ligaments can cause tightness. Working through scar tissue in some injuries can be challenging and take time, both dynamic and static stretching work to help loosen the stiffness around the joints and muscles.
When I tore my ACL in my knee and had to get surgery, a lot of physiotherapy was needed. I had to really stretch my muscles around the knee to work through the scar tissue and the swelling. range of motion was limited and took several months to get my knee back to a 90-degree bend.
No surprise when you are sitting all day reading my blog, you then get up to get yourself something to eat your muscles can feel tight and ache. Once you start walking around then the blood starts to flow in those joints and limbs and you start to feel better. Sometimes no activity can cause you to be inflexible, you sit in office chair all day months and years go by and you can barely get your heel to your butt when performing a quad stretch.
Studies On Stretching
Many studies are out there that suggest static stretching before exercise actually makes the muscle weaker before lifting weights or playing sports that involve explosive movements. This study by The National Library Of Medicine done in 2013 suggests avoiding static stretching until after the workout or exercise.
This and many other studies could very well be the reason today’s athletes in basketball, football and volleyball use a dynamic stretching routine before games. It just makes total sense to play when your body is sweating and ready to go as opposed to static stretching which can tire the muscle. I always found when I static stretched before my games my muscles felt sluggish and I could remember if it was a big game I wouldn’t static stretch at all, this being before I read any study that confirmed what I thought.
Another study I have read on the subject of static stretching before exercise was to perform static stretching one hour or more before your basketball game. By the time the game would start your body would have recovered from the static stretching and ready to go without feeling the effects of a weak muscle.
I highly recommend a dynamic stretching routine before a basketball game and a static stretching routine after. It just makes sense to get the body warmed up and moving before a game anyway so dynamic is the way to go.
I read several years ago, although I can not remember where or if it was backed up by research that the only static stretching exercise you should do is a hip flexor stretch before a competition, which I still do today and no negative effects. I actually feel more explosive doing it with a bounce to my step.
More Stretching Studies
Many believe stretching helps prevent injury risk, but a study is out that suggests the opposite to be true that stretching provides no advantage to preventing injuries at all.
A study by the National Library Of Medicine done suggests that stretching has no beneficial effect on injury prevention in sports that involve explosive movements based on strong evidence of their research.
Sports involving bouncing and jumping activities with a high intensity of stretch-shortening cycles (SSCs) [e.g. soccer and football] require a muscle-tendon unit that is compliant enough to store and release the high amount of elastic energy that benefits performance in such sports. If the participants of these sports have an insufficient compliant muscle-tendon unit, the demands in energy absorption and release may rapidly exceed the capacity of the muscle-tendon unit. This may lead to an increased risk for injury of this structure. Consequently, the rationale for injury prevention in these sports is to increase the compliance of the muscle-tendon unit. Recent studies have shown that stretching programmes can significantly influence the viscosity of the tendon and make it significantly more compliant, and when a sport demands SSCs of high intensity, stretching may be important for injury prevention. This conjecture is in agreement with the available scientific clinical evidence from these types of sports activities. In contrast, when the type of sports activity contains low-intensity, or limited SSCs (e.g. jogging, cycling and swimming) there is no need for a very compliant muscle-tendon unit since most of its power generation is a consequence of active (contractile) muscle work that needs to be directly transferred (by the tendon) to the articular system to generate motion. Therefore, stretching (and thus making the tendon more compliant) may not be advantageous. This conjecture is supported by the literature, where strong evidence exists that stretching has no beneficial effect on injury prevention in these sports. If this point of view is used when examining research findings concerning stretching and injuries, the reasons for the contrasting findings in the literature are in many instances resolved
Another study suggests that long-distance runners who static stretch before running had slower times than those who did no stretching at all. This study was on behalf of Runnersworld.com
The new paper, published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, looked at 10 highly fit male runners who were averaging at least 20 miles a week in their training. Before a treadmill test run, they either sat quietly for 16 minutes or did 16 minutes of static stretching exercises. They then ran for 60 minutes on the treadmill–the first 30 minutes at a relaxed pace, and the last 30 minutes as fast as they could.
With stretching, they covered an average of 5.8 km in the last 30 minutes. Without stretching, they ran 6.0 km, an increase of 200 meters or about 3.4 percent. Eight of the 10 runners performed better without stretching; one performed better with stretching; and one performed essentially the same under both conditions. On average, the stretchers hit a max heart rate 5 beats per minute higher than the non-stretchers in the final 30 minutes. In other words, the stretchers were working harder but covering less distance.
Why is this study important as a basketball player? Basketball players run 1 to 3 miles a game, and if you are playing every day you can easily run a half marathon a week.
In conclusion research backs that static stretching before activity may not be the best option because it tires out the muscles necessary for optimal performance. So save static stretches for after your workouts and games and do dynamic stretches pre-game.
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